Hope College junior John Pelton is one of 32 players nationwide invited to compete in the singles tournament of the NCAA Division III championships to be held May 16-18 at Bates College in Lewiston, Me.
The selection of players for the tournament is based on won-lost record, strength of schedule and eligibility and availability of student athletes.
Pelton is a graduate of Midland High School. He transferred to Hope after playing at Division I Western Michigan University. His family currently resides in Rock Hill, S.C. He posted a 22-3 dual match record at #1 singles. He lost to only one Division III opponent.
Pelton was named the most valuable player in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). He went undefeated in conference dual matches and at the conference tournament becoming the first non-Kalamazoo College player to go through league play undefeated at first flight singles. Kalamazoo is a perennial tennis power with an unprecedented 70 consecutive league titles. Hope is the only team to interrupt the streak, forcing co-championships in 1962 and 2003.
Pelton's 22 wins this season was a Hope record for victories in a season. The previous mark was 21 by Doug Barrow in 1969. Back then Division III did not exist so Barrow competed in the NCAA College Division tournament where he went unseeded, upset the number one seed in the semi-finals and lost in the finals, but received a standing ovation from the crowd. He also advanced to the University Division tournament the following week, but lost in the first round. He ended with a 21-8 record.
It has been 26 years since a Hope player was invited to the singles championship. In 1982, Tom DeWeert was defeated in the first round.
The Flying Dutchmen, coached by Steve Gorno, posted a 13-11 dual match record and finished fourth in the MIAA standings.